Updated: Apr 20, 2020
I was lucky enough make a windsurf trip to Maui with Maria Andres 3 years ago and was able to take full advantage of all her amazing inside knowledge of how to make the Maui Dream Trip a reality without breaking the bank!!! Thank you Maria for now sharing all this information with all the Girls here and thank you also for motivating me to make this amazing Trip with you!
Maria is one of those people who has inspired my life tremendously and I am so proud of her for always following her dreams and heart and winning the IWT wave tour in 2019!!!! But that's a topic for another Blog Post, until then enjoy this one ;)
Maria and me heading out in Hookipa.
MAUI FOR EVERYONE
Text: María Andrés
Photos: Fish Bowl Diaries, Manu Grafenauer, Klaas Voget, John Carter
Everyone has already heard about Maui, what could I say that you don’t know yet? A paradise in the middle of the Pacific Ocean where the surf culture was raised and where unfortunately, many people think they will never be able to go. Now, I will tell you the truth: You can make it happen!
Many of my friends keep asking me if they will be able to find a spot to windsurf on the Island, even if their level is not amazing, and my answer is yes, there will always be a B option! It is only a cliche that the Hawaiian Islands are a paradise only to be enjoyed by people with expert levels and plenty of experience.
There is no need to be a pro to enjoy the waves in Maui, there are spots for all kind of levels. But if indeed you are one of those advanced surfers, you obviously will also have the chance to keep practicing and improving on amazing waves!
Depending on the swell direction, there will always be places more exposed to the swell, good for surfing, and other beaches more sheltered, where you can freeride along the beautiful coast or learn how to surf in tiny smooth waves. It doesn’t matter what your level is, Maui is a great destination for you!
Also, Maui is not known for being a cheap place, but if you think this is a trip that you will never be able to afford and that you will only dream about, keep reading and maybe I’ll make you change your mind!
As result of many eruptions on this island, Maui’s geology, shape, location and geography is a unique combination, and that’s why it is a very special place on the planet. You can find pretty much all kind of climates on the island. From tropical to high mountain or desert climate.
Depending on the orientation and the height the landscapes and vegetation changes all around the island. Maui has a 3.000 m. high volcano with the biggest inactive crater in the world! From the top you can see the neighbor islands and enjoy the clearest lights of the sunrise!
There are amazing rain and bamboo forest, 10 m. waterfalls from which you can jump, lava tubes to go across with a torch, rainbow eucalyptus that looks it was painted by a naturalist crazy artist, an impressive lava garden covering all the south west hillside from the peak of the crater to the beach…. Of course, the underwater life is itself one on the other treasures of Maui.
The social life on the Island is a little special. If you come alone, you need to be active about it and don’t be shy. It is quite different from South America, Europe or Asia… It is harder to get to know people, but you can make friends and even though there are not many places to have a drink or dance, at the end you end up meeting some people and going to private BBQs or house parties, which always are a lot better! At 8 am there is no one on the streets but you will be surprised of how much is going on!
SOME REASONS TO VISIT MAUI.
Freeriding along the Maui coast can be already a magic experience. You can fly over pristine waters over the corals with turtles popping up around, with the view of Lanai Island and the palm trees on the shore… Watching the sunset from your board on the south coast is something mystic; the orange lights cover the bare mountains, and the scenery becomes like a live surf art painting.
The Slalom community is not as small as you could think on a wave paradise like Maui. There are plenty of amateur slalomers giving it all in Kanaha and Kihei flat waters, where sometimes, you’ll have the chance to sail with Pro Slalomers training full speed around.
Small /humble waves. If you don’t have a big experience on waves or you are learning how to surf, Sprecks and Kanaha are your spots. Kanaha is a beginner waverider paradise! Easy, mellow and a great friendly spot. Sandy, easy and what I love the most, the atmosphere! Every single person is smiling! And the best of all!! I have seen men and women over 70 year old sailing on waves there!!! Isn’t is inspiring and impressive? I love it! I guess I want to get old like that! Who doesn’t, right? Kihei side, at the south is a really good option as well, can be super flat or with small bumps for practicing your first jumps.
Big waves. Ho’okipa beach is just magic! Perfect powerful waves to enjoy when you have enough level, to improve your surfing and share your session with the most amazing riders of the planet… I have to confess sometimes I’m not focused just cause I am so stoked in being there and watching these riders doing it look so easy and stylish!! They are all heros! Last winter, I got to share a wave with Robby Naish… what can I say… I am still smiling! Hahaha.
Make sure you know everything you need about currents, positioning and the channel, and if you are not sure that you have the level… it is better not to go. If you are not ready for that, believe me, just sitting on the cliff and watch them do it is an adrenaline rush!
The Downwinders in SUP are already quite famous here on Maui. You can surf nice sized bumps all along the wild and green leafy north shore coast, watching the ring cloud hugging the summit of the Haleakala volcano, with rain walls traveling across the horizon leaving Rainbows at its trail. Well, this is something you can also do on your windsurf! Of course, making it on a safe way! With more people, not going to far, with knowledge about the place (a local friend would be the best!) and of couse, not with a big swell!)
Water life: During the winter-spring months you can experience to be driving the south roads watching whales jumping in the ocean right there in front of you! It can happen that you are surfing or cruising around and you see huge spray fountains just a few meters from you. That’s when you know that you have the greatest show about to begin, you are lucky enough to have crossed path with one of those beautiful giants travelling thousands of kilometers across the ocean. They don’t come too close, so it is not scary. It’s just beautiful. And if you want to hear their singing, just immerse your head in the water, it doesn’t matter if they are far, you will be able to hear their voices! I guarantee you will come out of the water with the biggest smile ever!
Little fun waves for SUP and surf, for beginners or kids, you have plenty of options and the atmosphere is relaxed. Laughs, safe, easy… A lot of longboards and SUPs on a spot where the foams come from far with power enough to let you do your take off , surf and even do some turns on a mellow wave to enjoy in family. The dad with the baby on the nose of the longboard, the girl with the dog, the tiny kids, the old ladies learning… Everyone happy and sharing the waves and the moment - it feels again like being on a postcard.
Giant waves. If you want action, you can find it! You have the well-known spots of the north shore, where you will find some rights, lefts, barrels, the famous Peahi’i (Jaws)… If you like to surf uncrowded spots, you can also check out and explore the outer reefs where you can surf down mountains of water or just watch from the channel. Check the wave report and chose your spot! But don’t be crazy, you are in Hawaii and the ocean is powerful and can change very fast!
Other activities. There is so much to do on Maui! You have amazing kiks, waterfalls, cliff jumping, beautiful places to freedive, sailing boat tours to see whales and swim with turtles and dolphins, btt trails and race bike around the island or all the way up 3000m to the crater! So, be sure even when no wind or waves, the is plenty of other options!
FINDING A CHEAP FLIGHT. Search, and keep searching!
First of all, try to searching for your flight well advance of your departure date, the prices, except for some rare occasions, are increasing the closer you get to your departure date. As soon as you know the dates you can travel, start looking for it! Come on! Switch on your PC and give yourself the chance to go to paradise!
I bought my last flights on Delta and Jetcost / Gotogate websites, but depending on your country, I am sure you know some other pages. Try to use a page that shows you in a graphic all the possible combinations of dates. Keep checking for it few days or weeks… and keep trying different combinations for the dates and airports (try the closest big airport). Maui Airport is called Kahului (OGG), not Honolulu!
Normally, the prices from Europe vary from 1.000€ to 1.800€… but if you spend some time to find it and book it in advance, you can get really good offers!! I paid for my last flight 850€, and then after, I found a flight for 712€!!! I immediately called my brother to tell him and now he will be coming to Maui in a few weeks! So, first of all, keep our eyes open on the flight pages, I know some friends that found tickets for less than 600€!
Don’t forget to get the ESTA, it is the Visa Europeans need to enter the USA, but it takes only 5 minutes to get it online and cost around 15$.
THE SEASON. Whenever, always amazing.
If you want some wave action on the North Shore, I recommend the winter season (north hemisphere). From September to April it is wavy and you have many windy days. Even the windy days, you can wake up early and go for a glass surfing in the Northshore or go all the wat to the sunny west. If you just want to visit around, freeride and maybe surf small waves, then you can come pretty much every season.
FIND ACCOMODATION. Renting rooms is an option, Facebook is a tool.
There are plenty of options, it will only depend on your budget.
If you can afford a nice accommodation, or if you travel with the family, you can find beautiful houses in different price ranges. You can find them on rental websites. There are also super cool cabins in the “jungle”, which can be very romantic/interesting if the cabin is well prepared!
If you travel by yourself for a longer period (one month or longer) or you want to find a cheaper option, I recommend you to look for a “studio” or a “room” on a shared house. Which is a very common thing to do on Maui. Go to Craigslist.org, click on USA/Hawaii/Maui and then find the section for the rentals and rooms. This is also a great way to meet people especially if you are traveling alone. The page is very easy to use and there is always a lot to choose from. Most of the houses are shared with people from all over the planet, and it is a very interesting learning experience to live in a mix of cultures like this. You will learn about new music, places, meals…
If you travel as a couple, I recommend to find a studio with a separate entrance, a cabin or a room in a big house. Many times they accept couples (or just 2 friends) on the same room, so it can be a lot cheaper, as the price for the room will be the same or just a tiny bit more. Sometimes they have 2 beds in the room, and if not, in the USA the beds like most other things are quite huge, so this is definitely an option if you have a very small budget… The different conception of big and small in Europe and North America always surprises me! A “small room” is as big as many houses in Europe!
And remember, Facebook is a great tool for this kind of purpose!! Just use it! There are friends that know friends that know friends…. who could be renting just the place you need on Maui!
You can find studios for 1000$-2000$ the month… And rooms on a nice house for 600$ to 1200$ monthly. So if you share it, it is quite ok… Remember, you are in paradise!
So sharing a room in a shared house could be something between 300$ and 600$ per month per person!
LOCATION. Wild North, Sunny South.
Where to rent… well… Depending what your activities will be.
The North Shore is quite wild; you are pretty much in the jungle, it is green and alive, there are fruits in every garden, it can rain for days in some areas (sometimes a lot!). It is powerful in all aspects. Most of the surfers and windsurfers live around this area. On the North Shore, if you don’t want mosquitos and rain but you still want to be close to the coast, Paia is a great location, it barely rains and it is warm and sunny. But Haiku, even though it can rain a lot, is magic and a great location to do hikes or visit waterfalls, it is a lot cheaper than Paia, and is just 10 to 15 minutes’ drive to the surf spots. Many of the windsurfers and surfers live around Haiku.
The South and South West is more touristic, dry, mellow… But very charming, warm and sunny. The streets are alive, people walk around, there are beautiful shops and galleries, great for a family day out. If you decide to live in this area, you will have to drive at least 30/40 minutes to go to the north shore.
Then, the Upcountry is beautiful, but to windsurf you need to drive down every day, it takes 20/30 minutes. There are nice country houses with fire place, as it gets colder the more high you go, the scenery doesn’t look tropical anymore, papaya and avocado trees will be replaced by pines and horses. There are also good trails for hiking or biking and you get to see the best sunsets. It is probably cheaper than living by the coast and could make you live a different Maui experience.
EATING. Cooking and Costco.
Eating out in Maui is expensive, so you have to be careful with that. In fact it is the most common way people go over their budget! The portions are huge, but the prices are high. (And remember mandatory tips are not included on the price!)
If you are staying in a place where you can cook, the best way not to spend all your money on food, and also don’t lose time with waiting in restaurants during the day, is being organized and cook lunch at home to take it with you. This will not only save you money, but also allow you to explore around, have a little lunch on a great spot, and then straight away get in the water again, or continue exploring around. Every time you do it, you will save 10 to 20 $ and you will probably eat healthier than eating whatever you find in a rush!
For me, Spanish, eating out is part of my culture. We have amazing tapas and it is quite cheap and quick. But on the island the culture is a bit different. There are just few villages with nice places to eat… and you won’t be always close to those places.
If you go out for dinner on the North Shore, I recommend to try the fish burgers at the Fish Market in Paia, the Ahi Poke from Kuau Store, a local recipe for raw tuna, and the Thai in Haiku where you can bring your own beers – a lot cheaper this way!!
If you plan to stay 15 days or longer and you are not alone, you should definitely get a Costco card -55$-. Costco is a big supermarket where every product comes on ridiculous big packages, but it is really worth it for many things! Cereals, bread, cheese, frozen stuff, eggs… It is way cheaper than any other place! For little things, Walmart is pretty good, and for fresh, organic or exotic food, go to Mana Food supermarket in Paia, they have everything you can imagine, but check the prices!
MOBILITY. You’ll want to have a car.
Maui is such an amazing island that there is no doubt you must have a car to explore around and get to the different spots. There are a lot of car rentals; famous companies with brand new cars or little family business renting a bit older cars and vans for a very reasonable price. Our favourite is: https://northshoremauirentacar.com/ owned by fellow windsurf pro's Robbie Swift an Marcilio Brown. Remember, Facebook is also a very good tool to ask friends of friends of friends ;) Kimo’s and Manaloha are very popular rentals for windsurfers.
By the way, the gas is not as expensive as it is in Europe… so you can drive around cheaply. If you come for longer than 2 months, the best is to buy a car. The title transmission takes just a few minutes to be done and costs only around 15$, one week before leaving you can sell it. It is quite easy to sell! You can sell it pretty much for the same price you bought it. Visit Craigslist.org to find it and to sell it.
Some people buy minivans or vans and build little camper cars to live inside… but here the beach parkings have gates and they close at nights… so for the camping adventure you will need to keep searching for the right / allowed sleeping spots (unless you have a friend with a parking place for you). I never did it, but I know friends who did. It is a cool option for the ones that want to explorer every day a different part.
You can find nice minivans for 1200-2000$, and sell them for the same price, if it doesn’t break! This is a risk you have to take. While if you rent it, it will be at least 600 or 800 the month!
So, for a long holidays, the costs of having a car could be 0$ + gas.
EQUIPMENT. Rent it or bring it?
It depends on how long you are going to stay, and if you plan to be everyday on the water or just sometimes. You can also check the rates for sports equipment at the airline you flight with.
The easiest way to check is here: http://airline-baggage-fees.com
With some airlines, you can check in your boardbag as a normal luggage (put part of your cloths on a back pack, part on the cabing little luggage and the rest on the boardbag)… you won’t need much cloths anyway! Haha.
For the good or pro surfers or racers, obviously I recommend to travel with your own board.
If you fly with American, you have the right to have 2 boardbags 32kgs each as 1 windsurf set for 150€. So whenever you can choose American, you can check in 2 pieces! So if you are 2 people with one boardbag each… remember to say this is just one set!! So you will share the cost of one ;)
The amateurs that come for no longer than 3 weeks and plan to sail just a few times the best is to rent. There are a lot of places to rent daily or weekly, where you will be able to choose the kind of board and sail sizes you need, even to take a SUP when not windy. But I have to say, if you rent more than 7 days or so… it will be already pretty much the same price than bringing your own stuff. By the way… in Costco you can buy foamy mini-malibu boards for a little more than 100$... so in some cases it is cheaper than renting ;)
LET’S GO TO MAUI!
With this quick top tips to save money and make an affordable trip to Maui, you should be ready to make this dream surf trip accessible according to your budget.
Find the cheap ticket, share a house, cook your lunch, share the excess baggage with your friend, buy a car and sell it and you will have lived new experiences, learn, surf and eat healthy while you safe more than 2 or 3 thousand dollars!
Travel experiences are something that will live with us forever, on our learnings, knowledge, memories… We become wiser, braver, more independent, we meet amazing people to learn from, to grow, to get inspired… so, spending this way the money we earn working, is always better than doing it on material things we don’t really need, isn’t it?
See you on the Hawaiian waters ;)
Hope you liked the Article if you still haven't got a taste for Maui, here is a little clip from Maria and my Time in Maui.